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Fear of Flying: NBA Star Refuses to Fly, Takes Bus

Nick Laham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Pteromerhanophobia, or the fear of flying, can provoke symptoms as mild as a fluttering heart or so severe that some have a full-blown panic attack just thinking about being 35,000 miles up in the air.

Just this week, the NBA's Royce White said in an interview with ESPN that he had cut a deal with the Houston Rockets to use bus transportation for much of the season's travel schedule rather than fly with the team. He missed the team's media day on Monday.

The Rockets have even agreed to consider putting it in writing in Royce's contract because his fear of flying and accompanying anxiety is so crippling.

"What it's going to look like is every game that's drivable, I'm going to get a bus for myself," White told ESPN. "And I'm going to make that bus feel like home so that there's a level of consistency in a job where inconsistency is very apparent because of the schedule. I'm going to try and level that out and make sure that my stress levels stay low and that my rest is regular and that my meals are regular and that as much as I can, draw consistency from a very inconsistent schedule.

"People with mental illness, one of the most important things is that they have that consistency and routine," he said. "The girth of (my request) was, 'Can I travel by bus to close enough games?' "

White, like many others who fear flying, said he has generalized anxiety disorder, which can affect every aspect of his life. He has reported panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies, as well.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 8.7 percent of people, or about 19 million Americans, suffer from phobias. Fear of flying can be one of them.

Several studies, including one done by Boeing in 1980, have found that up to 40 percent of all Americans have some anxiety about flying, according to a New York Times interview with organizers a fear of flying conference sponsored by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio